Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How to Take a Taxi in Shanghai (Or China, in General)

It seems like such a trivial subject, but hey, how many travelers just anyhow hop onto a cab? I know I didn't when I was a flight attendant, thanks to horror stories of how certain cabs are just exorbitant like the black ones in South Korea or just a normal cab in Japan. (Did you know a cab ride from Narita International Airport to the city can set you back a good USD500? That's why.)

To help put travelers at ease, taxi rides are cheeeeeeaaaap in Shanghai. Really really cheap. I heard from the locals that Shanghai is considered expensive in China, when you go to parts of China like Guangzhou or Hangzhou or the not-so-developed places, they're even cheaper.

To begin with, all taxis have a taxi logo light at the top of the vehicle, as with all normal taxis in any other part of the world. If anyone drives up to you offering a ride, don't take it. There are many drivers looking to earn extra moolah in China, and they don't have meters, so you might get ripped off, or taken to god-knows-where, especially if you're a tourist, and a female. 

Taxi Fare:

5:00hr - 23:00
Hop On Rate: First 3km - 13RMB, with a 1RMB fuel surcharge. 
Every 1km thereafter within 10km - 2.4RMB (~50cents?); and 
Every 1km after 10km - CNY3.6
Every 5 minutes of stop time - CNY2.1

(RMB or CNY, it's the same. -.-" China Yuan or Ren Min Bi, in case you get confused.)

So imagine taking a cab from Far East Plaza to Chijmes. That should set you back a total of 14RMB. In total. About there I think? So it's less than S$3. 
(Exchange Rate: S$1 ~ CNY5)

23:00 - 05:00
Hop On Rate: First 3km - 17RMB, with 1RMB surcharge
Every 1km thereafter w/i 10km - CNY3.1
Every 1km after 10km - CNY4.1
Every 5 minutes of stop time - CNY3.1

(I heard you can bargain taxi fares at night. I'm not a fan of bargaining, but if you like those stuff, go ahead and try your luck. ^.^)

Much cheaper than our every 20cents/250m. Not to mention we have a S$3 surcharge for every trip starting within the city from 5pm to midnight, which would make our flag down already ~S$6? *faints*

Oh, and there's a CNY2.1 for every 5 minutes of stop time. 

If you have a Shanghai Transportation Card (something like an MRT Ezlink Card or a Met Card, you can use it to pay for taxi rides. All taxis should accept the card. You can refuse payment if they decline to accept your Transportation Card. 

It's quite a pain in the pigu if you're trying to get a cab during rainy weather, or especially during peak hours (worse if it's rainy weather during peak hours. Good luck.) so it pays to know some numbers in case you need a cab badly:

Taxi Booking
  • Dazhong: (+86) 021-96822 (supposedly one of the best ones, aqua/light-blue colored)
  • Qiangsheng: (+86) 021-62580000
  • Jinjiang: (+86) 021-96961
  • Bashi: (+86) 021-96840
  • Haibo (+86) 021-96965

If you have a lot of people, you can call Dazhong to ask for a bigger taxi, which can accommodate up to 7 passengers. The fare is the same.

There is generally no booking fee if you call for a cab, except for Dazhong which charges 4yuan for each booking.

Cabs can be flagged from anywhere. I'm not kidding when I say anywhere. Even in the middle of a junction. If you can flag, they can stop. Even though there is a rule stating that they can't stop within 30m of an intersection. For the safety of all road users (yourself included), flag cabs from the sidewalk. It's left-hand drive in China, so watch the correct side when flagging, or crossing, for that matter.

Don't worry about getting ripped off by a taxi driver in Shanghai. Unlike in Thailand or certain parts of the world where they don't like using the meters, the ones in Shanghai do. And always ask for a fa piao 发票), which means receipt. (They don't say 收据 in China.)

A typical taxi receipt (fa piao), with all the necessary information:
  • Car number 
  • Driver's license number
  • Date
  • Time you got on to time you got off
  • Basis fare (don't know what that means)
  • Distance travelled
  • Waiting time
  • Fuel surcharge
  • Total

The Dazhong ones will almost always give you the receipt without you having to ask. But they all do if you ask anyway, and you can just walk away without paying if they refuse to give you one. Unless you're looking for a fight or at least a shouting match, try to resolve any problem peacefully if you can. Shanghainese are generally loud, especially their women (don't try messing with them), so if you get into a heated argument, be prepared to bask in loads of (unwanted) attention.

One thing I've noticed (which is unusual for me) is that wherever you are heading, you need to tell the driver the road name, and the nearest intersecting road name as well. So for example, if you want to go to 607 Beijing Xi Lu (Beijing West Road), you can't just tell them Beijing Xi Lu. Because their roads are usually very long and they don't have many prominent buildings (like Ion Orchard or Concourse), it's as good as telling them to go to Bukit Timah Road without any specific point.

So if you want to go to Kedi Convenience Store along Beijing Xi Lu, you have to tell the driver 
"Beijing Xi Lu, Shi Men Er Lu";

And if you want to go to Lirong Pawn, tell the driver
"Beijing Xi Lu, Datian Lu"

(Lu translates to road in Putonghua - Chinese)

Now, fighting for a cab with a mainland Chinese can be exasperating. It's either you're awfully gracious and just keep letting one mainlander after another go for the cab (when you've been standing there for the past 20 minutes and he just comes from nowhere), or you forget what you've been taught about moral values and giving way and aggressively snatch your way to a cab. I'm not good at fighting, especially with ugly social disgraces, so I'll just walk on to a busier road and get another cab. But if all else fails, use the law of attraction and tell yourself that an cab is coming to you and you alone, and it will. ;)

Have fun with taxis in Shanghai, and be safe!

For more Shanghai taxi information and tips, click here.

P.S. I could write about public transport and the trains in Shanghai, but I've read recently that there was a girl who had her upskirt pictures snapped by a pervy's phone and another was ejaculated on in the train by another pervy creep. So....right~ Cover yourself up (hard to in this sweltering summer heat), or risk it. Oh, plus, when taking the trains in Shanghai, you don't really have to walk - you get pushed your way in and out, so you're basically just drifting through the crowd. I don't really fancy rubbing shoulders, or any other parts, with a wet erection, so I think I'll just stick to taxis, thank you. \^.^/

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